Pollinator gardens are valuable community gardens, education centers for all ages, and unique outdoor laboratories. They educate visitors about pollinators, their life cycles, and their food preferences at each life stage. Not only are they diverse in their plant life and the pollinators they attract, but they also function to attract audiences of all ages.
The Tucker Butterfly Garden (tuckerbutterflygarden.org), a project begun in 2008, was designed and is maintained to attract butterflies. This pollinator garden demonstrates the cultivation of host and nectar plants that support the complete life cycle of butterflies. Through the garden, children and the general public are provided with education about these wonderful, colorful creatures.
MGEVs have taken an innovative approach to teaching children at the garden. They have created a special garden host, Mrs. Frittilary. Mrs. Frittilary is a dressed mannequin, developed as a fashionable art attraction for the site, who shows off a seasonal wardrobe.
Each summer, The Tucker Butterfly Garden has an educational Butterfly and Friends Day for the children in summer camp at the Tucker Recreation Center and children are engaged in a variety of activities in and out of the garden to teach them about pollination.
The garden was the idea of two DeKalb County MGEVs who presented the idea for the project out of love for gardening and butterflies. Through the hard work of MGEVs, the Butterfly Garden has become a focal point for the community.
The Pollinator Berm at Sparrow Field is a 150-yard-long garden on Skidaway Island that separates a meadow from a golf course green. The site was initially developed when the golf course sought certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Members of the Landings Garden Club assisted in selecting and planting “pollinator-friendly” plants on the berm that separates the meadow from the golf green. In 2013, a group of newly certified MGEVs adopted the project as a way to contribute to research about monarch butterflies as well as to educate the public about pollinators.
The site is a living laboratory for monarch butterfly research. MGEVs, acting as citizen scientists, collect and contribute data to Monarch Health, a program administered by UGA, and to the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project led by the University of Minnesota. Data tracked for the Monarch Larva-Monitoring Project has contributed to information known about monarch preferences for certain types of milkweed. The project has received multiple recognitions, including designation as a Monarch Waystation and the Martha Miller Butterfly Award by the Oleander District Garden Club.
MGEVs have planted seven species of native milkweed and have worked to increase the total number and variety of plants. The berm is now planted with nearly 100 species of flowering plants, 63% of which are native.
The pollinator berm is like an outdoor classroom for observing nature’s interdependencies, including links among native plants, host plants, and insect life cycles. It offers opportunities to photographers, birders, citizen scientists, gardeners, and even home-schooled students. Like the Tucker Butterfly Garden, it is a true asset to the community.
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